Fantasy football 2011: Week 1 emergency start options that will save your team

My wife ventured into the world of canning this summer, and we now have neatly ordered shelves full of home made spaghetti sauce, salsa, pears, peaches, pickles and loads of other stuff. Next on the canning radar? Chow-chow. Huh?

Chow-chow is a Pennsylvania Dutch way of preserving the leftovers out of the garden, according the more seasoned of canners in our area. Kind of potpourri of stuff that shouldn’t go to waste and could provide a tasty treat when the cupboards go bare during the long winter months.

Heading into the heart of Week 1 NFL action, there isn’t usually a great need for plug-and-play starters. You are fresh off your draft with a slew of diamonds in the rough that you can throw in if game-day decisions go awry. However, if you find yourself scrambling, here are a few leftover chow-chow options likely on your waiver wire that should have a big week based on matchups and opportunity:

Quarterbacks

Kerry Collins, IND. He’s older than the Model T, as elegant as Mr. T and currently cheaper than a bag of tea.

However, Collins inherited an offense loaded with big-time firepower and faces a Houston Texans defense in Week 1 that would have made Betty White look like Joe Montana last season. The best part? Collins is available in 86 percent of all Yahoo leagues and gets an encore powder puff matchup against the Browns next week. I listed Collins as a waiver wire target earlier this week.

Cam Newton, CAR. Rookie QBs typically don’t have banner first seasons, but Newton has enough variety in his game to make him an appealing Week 1 starter, especially against a Cardinals defense that couldn’t stop a blind, intoxicated turtle.

Steve Smith will provide a good security blanket and DeAngelo Williams and company will keep defenses mostly honest. Newton is available in 67 percent of Yahoo leagues currently.

Colt McCoy, CLE. Looking much improved in preseason this summer, McCoy will have plenty of opportunities to pass downfield against a Cincinnati defense that is a total enigma at the moment.

He’s available in 62 percent of Yahoo leagues and could have the best game of his young career this weekend. More on Colt’s sleeper potential can be found here.

Running backs

Derrick Ward/Ben Tate, HOU. While Arian Foster is listed as questionable for Week 1 at the moment, the undertones suggest he’s very unlikely to see the field.

Enter Ward and Tate, who both should produce even if they are in a straight timeshare in Week 1 against an Indianapolis run defense that is as intimidating as a dandelion to a shiny new Cub Cadet lawn tractor.

Ward has the veteran upper hand in the timeshare, although Tate has a bigger skillset. Ward will be more available in your leagues than Tate.

Delone Carter, IND. If he’s still available in your league, he shouldn’t be. Even if you don’t plan to use him this week. At the moment, he’s behind Joseph Addai on the depth chart – but that is it. Carter has been promoted to the No. 2 option in this offense.

And considering Addai’s overall frailty and the unimposing Texans defense, expect Carter to get a healthy dose of carries even if Addai stays healthy himself all game.

Chester Taylor, ARI. Getting deep in sleeperland with this pick. Taylor is owned in all of two percent of Yahoo leagues.

However, he is in a very good situation. Yes, his skillset has severely declined, but he finds himself the defacto No. 2 RB for the Cardinals. He’s behind a Beanie Wells that didn’t suddenly become that much better this offseason – he just got that much more of an opportunity to play when Ryan Williams went down for the season. He’s still Beanie Wells, and that may come back to bite him sooner rather than later.

The matchup here is also a key reason you can seriously consider Taylor as a starting option. The Panthers defense was a tough as a wet piece of toilet paper last year and even made Cedric Benson and other unsavory backs look like All-Pros this preseason.

Leon Washington, SEA. I promised you some deep chow-chow options, and Washington is yet another barely owned commodity (just three percent owned in Yahoo leagues) that could be a sneaky-good play this week.

Yes, Marshawn Lynch is still ahead of him on the depth chart. In fact, many projections have Justin Forsett ahead of him, too. But don’t sleep on Washington, who was promised a much more prominent role in this offense – especially from a passing, out-of-the-backfield sort of way. He could become a decent flex option in PPR leagues and against an inconsistent San Francisco defense this week, he will see some stat opportunities right off the bat.

For more on what I think of Washington, go here.

Wide receivers

Brandon Gibson, STL. Needing an option that is still likely on your waiver wire, I decided to bypass the Mike Sims-Walkers and Danny Amendolas in the queue. Sam Bradford may be passing on them, too, in favor of Gibson, who at the moment has a shot to be the team’s No. 1 receiver.

The Rams are primed to have a huge uptick in the passing game with Josh McDaniel in tow and with Bradford on the cusp of NFL stardom. Lesser receivers have looked great in St. Louis before (Mark Clayton among others) and under McDaniels’ tutelage (see Brandon Lloyd circa 2010).

The Rams and Eagles will be locked up in a high-scoring pass-a-thon, and Gibson will have plenty of opportunities to make some plays and produce some solid stats. More on my thoughts about Gibson can be found here. And ini my NFC West preview.

And … he’s owned in just four percent of Yahoo leagues.

Mohamed Massaquoi, CLE. Remember that Colt McCoy guy I mentioned earlier? He’s going to be a decent fantasy start this week. And to do so, he’ll need to throw the ball to someone. Massaquoi is the team’s leading receiver, and surprisingly, he’s still available in 94 percent of leagues. He’ll have a standout showing against a Bengals defense that scares less people than a kid dressed as Elmo on Halloween.

Tight ends

Lance Kendricks, STL. A rookie tight end? If you read my earlier post, you’d know why. Kendricks has wowed the organization and the Rams have decided to use him in all sorts of ways to maximize his ability to produce out of the gates.

The Eagles defense has added a ton of playmakers, but don’t be surprised if it takes them some time to gel as a unit. I expect the Rams-Eagles contest to be a shootout, and Kendricks will benefit nicely.

And he’s available in 66 percent of leagues at the moment. More on Kendricks can be found here. And in my NFC West preview.

Jared Cook, TEN. He is owned in 50 percent of Yahoo leagues, but I expect that number to jump up quickly after this week. The Jaguars aren’t world-beaters when it comes to stopping opposing passing games – including tight ends.

Cook has top-5 tight end potential and is going to be featured a lot more heavily in the offense this season. Don’t miss the boat.

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